INTERESTING HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF TAFAWA BALEWA



 THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE OF TAFAWA BALEWA

Tafawa Balewa is a village in the southern part of Bauchi State in northern Nigeria. Tafawa Balewa village takes its name from two diluted Fulani words: "Tafari" (rock) and Baleri (black)."

Tafawa Balewa is populated by Fulani, Hausa, Karawa, Sayawa, Kanuri, Tapshinawa (angas) and few other tribes.

Tafawa Balewa, the birth place and home of the First Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa is indisputably a name that is known worldwide. In the 19th and up to early decades of the 20th Century, the small village as it could then be described, located at about 80km south of Bauchi town could not have been known beyond the borders of the former Bauchi Province except by the west-east merchants (traversing between Borno to the kurmi through the Plateau) who not only used to pass through it but also took it as their stop-over station.

By traditional hierarchy, The village head of Tafawa Balewa pays allegiance to the emir of Wai, whose seat is at Gori, a much smaller settlement to the north. The emir in turn pays allegiance to the District Head of Lere.

In terms of education and as explained by Prof. Salisu Shehu, "of all the district headquarters within Bauchi Emirate except Bauchi township, there was hardly any village (as at that time) that would rank equal to Tafawa Balewa in terms of the flourishing of Islamic knowledge and culture. It would not be spurious to claim that the Islamic scholarly and moral dispositions exhibited by the First Prime Minister of Nigeria was first and foremost among several other factors, a personification of that rich Islamic cultural orientation. What may confirm this assertion was the proliferation of makarantun allo/tsangayu and zaurukan Ilimi in the then small village since in the first half of the 20th century..  From the late 1950s up to the late 1980s, the sole, spectacular and remarkable scholastic influence of the then Chief Imam of Tafawa Balewa Liman Mallam Bello (Bijimin Kudu da Bauchi as he was nicknamed by his scholar colleagues in the then Bauchi Province) and some of his closest disciples like his very son Mallam Muhammadu Maidawa Bula, Mallam Dahiru Unguwar Rogo (now the Chief Imam of Dass town) and the most prominent of them all - Sheikh Ado Musa Tafawa Balewa, are certainly the factor that explains the blossoming of Islamic education in the area. Perhaps as a result of the bilateral influence of both Bauchi and Jos cities on the people of the town, Tafawa Balewa is certainly one of the earliest villages to have had an Islamiyya school in the former Bauchi province with the exception of Bauchi town."

Accompanying their striking traditional dress, the inhabitants of Tafawa Balewa who are mostly Fulani adorn themselves with beautiful jewellery and headdresses and paint themselves with henna. Their women are also notable craftspeople, making pottery and woven and embroidered goods. It is prevalent for their women to use ink to blacken their mouths and gums. Their men are less involved in the production of crafts such as pottery, iron-working, and dyeing, unlike males from neighbouring ethnic groups around them.

The prominent foods available in my village are Fura and Nono, Koko and kosai, Dambu, Shinkafa, Alale, Tuwo, among others.

Central to our village lifestyle is a code of behavior known as pulaaku  literally meaning the "Fulani pathways" which are passed on by each generation as high moral values of the Fulbe, which enable them to maintain their identity across boundaries and changes of lifestyle. These qualities include:

Munyal: Patience, self-control, discipline, prudence

Gacce / Semteende: Modesty, respect for others (including foes)

Hakkille: Wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality

Sagata / Tiinaade: Courage, hard work

Unfortunately, Tafawa Balewa town has been an epicenter of communal crises that have lasted for over 50 years; as witnessed in 1948, 1959, 1977, 1991, 1995, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012, with hundreds of lives lost and property worth millions of naira destroyed. The major cause of the frequent conflict in the area has to do with the chieftaincy and ownership of Tafawa Balewa town.
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